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Best Life: Nerve reconstruction building back function and confidence for patients

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:15 AM CDT
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HOUSTON, Tx. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Imagine a dentist giving you a shot to numb pain before dental surgery. Normally, that feeling wears off after a couple of hours. But what if it didn’t? That is the feeling one man had to deal with after a tumor took away his ability to feel.

Music plays a big part in Chris and Trust Stovah’s lives.

“I like music. That’s where we met in the first place in a local church,” said Chris.

But the music stopped when a fast-growing benign tumor on Chris’ jaw made it hard for him to sing.

“The teeth of that region, I couldn’t use to eat. It comes with severe pain,” he said.

The tumor even made Chris limit his time outside the house.

“He can’t go to places without anybody asking him, ‘What’s going on with you here? What happened to you here,’” said Trust, Chris’ wife.

Surgeons removed the tumor from Chris’s jaw, but to do so, they also had to remove a nerve which meant Chris would lose sensation in a portion of his face and have difficulty eating or smiling. But thankfully, Dr. James Melville had a solution to make sure that didn’t happen.

“What we call a microvascular free flap, we brought that up and then connect, did the micro-vascular in the neck and then repaired his nerve at the same time. So that surgery is pretty extensive,” James Melville, DDS, FACS, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the University of Texas Health Science Center, noted.

During a 12-hour surgery, Dr. Melville removed the tumor and rebuilt Chris’s jaw. Then he reconstructed Chris’s alveolar nerve using Avance nerve graft to restore sensation to Chris’s jaw and mouth.

“I can do whatever I want to do,” Chris exclaimed.

And have the confidence to go wherever he wants to go.

Recovery from the surgery is typically around 12 months. Chris got complete sensation back in his mouth and jaw in about nine months.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.

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